Thursday, July 07, 2011

KC Extends Unbeaten Run

Kansas City extended their unbeaten run on the season to 11 games, the second longest in team history as they came from behind again to tie the Rapids 1-1 at LiveSTRONG Sporting Park. With all the schedule congestion, Peter Vermes made two changes to his lineup that took on Portland on the weekend. Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara stepped back into the starting lineup for CJ Sapong and Milos Stojcev. For the Rapids they had Conor Casey and Omar Cummings starting together for the first time since early in the season.

The move to start Bunbury almost paid off early for KC as in the 12th minute, Bunbury cut between two defenders with the ball and let loose with a shot from just outside the box that beat Matt Pickens in goal, but didn't beat the post as it bounced back into play and was cleared. A positive sign from Bunbury given his poor form lately. Unfortunately that was the highlight of the night for Bunbury who struggled it seemed much of the rest of the way. After the goal, Colorado seemed to get more of the play, but really didn't do much with, while KC was only really creating half chances themselves at the other end of the field. Just after the half hour mark, Colorado was able to grab the lead through Conor Casey. Tyrone Marshall played a long free kick towards Casey, Aurelien Collin came in to try to head the ball away but missed, and while that happened, Matt Besler backed off Casey assuming Collin would get to the ball. With Collin's miss, Casey brought the ball down with his chest, turned, and fired a shot past Nielsen for the 1-0 lead.

Other than Bunbury's chance off the bar, KC's offense really looked anemic for much of the first half and into the second half, until the 61st minute, when Sapong entered the game for Bunbury. Sapong almost immediately added more offense to the line up as 30 seconds after he'd come on he'd helped earn a corner. After a little over a minute on the field Sapong had helped set up the tying goal. Graham Zusi had received the ball in the middle of the field and slid a through ball for Sapong who raced onto it and then fired a shot from the top of the box, Pickens saved the shot, but didn't hold on, and Zusi following the play passed the ball into the empty net to tie the game at 1-1. KC continued to press and Sapong was doing well to hold the ball up and help to create opportunities, but it was Colorado that almost grabbed a second through Sanna Nyassi in the 74th off a free kick. Nyassi fired just wide of Nielsen's near post. And the second half's hectic nature continued as KC basically came right back down the field and almost found a second goal themselves. Michael Harrington dribbled deep into Colorado's end before finding Omar Bravo who forced a good save out of Pickens, the rebound fell to Harrington who had Pickens right at his feet by the time he got to the ball and it deflected back to Bravo. But with an open net Bravo couldn't turn the deflection into the goal, firing it off the post and back into play. KC continued to look for a winner into 6 minutes of stoppage time and almost had good luck shine on them. In the 5th minute of stoppage time, Sapong what looked to be a short cross to the back post, but deflected off a Rapids defender and was headed towards the net. Pickens though did a fantastic job of coming back to his left after committing to his right and tipping the ball onto the post again to keep the score level. KC just couldn't find anything with their chances late in the game and had to settle for the draw and moving their unbeaten run to 11. They'll continue their busy schedule against Chivas on the weekend.

WIZARDS Man of the Match - Roger Espinoza - Espinoza had a solid game in the center of midfield for KC. While most of Colorado's attacks came down the wings or through long balls over the top, Espinoza did a good job of cutting down angles in the middle and keeping Colorado from the odd chance coming through the middle. He also did a good job of linking with the forwards up top.

Honorable Mention - Graham Zusi, CJ Sapong

Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Myers 6, Collin 5, Besler 5, Harrington 6, Cesar 6, Espinoza 7, Zusi 7, Bravo 5, Bunbury 4, Kamara 4. Subs Sapong 7, Diop NR.


hartley said...

It is pretty clear that CJ should start instead of Teal. Teal is giving up. He gets a great shot on goal that bangs off the post and does nothing after that. Someone has to get to him and tell him to just keep playing and playing and playing.

It's great to see Roger be such a force for good things in the midfield. I can see him teaming up with Zusi and Craig or Zusi and Davy in the midfield later this season.

And although we could have used the three points big time, getting a point again against the Rapids is good. They did win the Cup last year and are starting to put things together.

Keep on keeping on Sporting!

Moop said...

I was worried that Espinoza was going to draw a card at some point with how aggressive he was playing. That being said, I'm glad he played that aggressive. That is one thing I like about him and Collin as well.

I'm not sure why, but I always perceive Colorado as playing dirty. Last night seemed that way at least. I know I saw Casey give Besler a elbow once or twice. It was good to see both Besler and Collin give it right back to him at points.

Wanted a win, but glad to pick up the draw. I definitely enjoyed the second half.

Drew said...

We see a massive difference in Bunbury and Sapong. Sapong has the skill and ability to hold the ball up, bring people into the attack and then move off the ball. He's strong and quick. He changed the game coming on for SKC. Bunbury needs the ball played to his feet and then he can beat a defender. We've seen this in all his goals this season and his almost goal against Colorado. Sapong and Zusi have to be joint MVPs thus far, and keep them in form by starting them every match. Yes, fatigue can set in; but they're young and strong. Their play is carrying this team offensively, and say what you will about Bravo; but he is a DP and I expect either more goals or creating more chances for the team. Espinoza has been better since moving into the 5 man midfield, but the defense made a silly mistake and Casey capitalized. I think they're punching above their weight against other mid to upper level MLS teams.